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Pittman to unveil policy on police chokeholds, restraints

Changes are coming to one county police department’s use of force policies for chokeholds and neck restraints.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said Tuesday that he expects to announce an updated policy clarifying police use of  force.

Pittman’s announcement comes a day after the filing of a lawsuit against three Anne Arundel County officers and the police department by an Odenton man who claimed the officers used excessive force and pinned him prostrate on the ground with a knee across his neck. Daniel Jarrells, the plaintiff, is Black and the officer is white.

Jarrells tells the officer that he cannot breathe. The officer tells Jarrell that he can breathe, according to the lawsuit.

Video released showing part of the incident is reminiscent of the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this year.

“This hurts,” said Pittman, who added that he was speaking about the issue against the advice of county attorneys because of pending litigation. “It will hurt our community. I know it’s hurting people in our community right now to see a photograph very much like (what) was in the George Floyd incident.”

The county executive said he will release an updated policy regarding chokeholds, calling the county’s current policy unclear. The new policy will be released publicly during a town hall meeting with Pittman and Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare  scheduled for Wednesday night.

Pittman said the county has “not been clear enough on our policy about the use of chokeholds and we’ll be making that change in the next 24 hours and announcing that change so people can comment on it” during the Wednesday evening meeting.


“The incident was very different and I believe the intent was very different and that the officer, he was not intending to end the life of the suspect,” said Pittman of the video of the Anne Arundel County incident. “However, it’s clearly not the kind of policing that we train, and it’s not the kind of policing that I believe that we were doing.”

Pittman said the lawsuit and video disturbed him so much that he needed to walk out of staff training on racial inequity.

“I could no longer concentrate, and I had to pull out,” he said.

An internal review of the case had not been done because there was no complaint. Charges against Jarrells were ultimately dropped. The filing of the lawsuit will trigger an internal investigation by the police department, said Pittman, vowing transparency.

“And so right now what we’re looking at is potentially using this investigation  as a pilot for civilian review,” he said. “I feel strongly that we need to increase (transparency) to build trust between the community and the police department and too many people believe that these investigations  are not done thoroughly and … that it’s the police policing the police and that they don’t trust the process.”

In a 10-page response to questions about the police department following the death of Floyd, Altomare wrote that officers “are repeatedly trained that the position Mr. Floyd was placed in should be avoided for long periods of time more than seconds to avoid the risk of positional asphyxia. We are also taught specifically that when holding a person to the ground to avoid the neck area, particularly with our knees, because it impinges everything that keeps a human alive, such as air and blood flow, nerve impulses from the brain, etc.”

Pittman said the county has been considering a number of changes to policy policy regarding the use of force, including the addition of  body-worn cameras for police as well as a civilian review process for complaints against officers. A report on the department is expected later this year.


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